Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It should all be over soon

Now that the cardinals are voting, it seems likely that the conclave won’t be a long one. The graphic below shows the course of the conclaves since the beginning of the 20th century.

What will be their concerns as they vote?
The 115 cardinals who begin voting here on Tuesday are caught in a crosscurrent of priorities and different geographical loyalties. Cardinals inside the Roman Curia—the governing body of the Vatican—want to maintain their status in Rome. Without a strong internal candidate, however, they are looking outside their ranks for a new leader.

Cardinals from major dioceses in the U.S., Europe and Latin America, meanwhile, have united in publicly calling for an overhaul in the governance of the Curia. But they are weighing myriad candidates, and they are split over where the papacy should focus its attention: in Europe, where the Church's influence has faded, or in Latin America, where it is still a dominant force.

So far, the overriding question of how the church—particularly the Curia—governs is topping the agenda after months of turmoil, including a leaks scandal that exposed waste and infighting at the Vatican.

"A divide exists between the cardinals who work outside of Rome and those who work in the Curia," Rev. Thomas Reese, an analyst on Catholic issues, said Monday.

"There is a need for the general administration of the church to be put in good order," retired Cardinal Edward Egan said in a recent interview. He noted that over the past half-century, the central organization of the Vatican had gotten too large, inefficient and lost focus on what is happening in local parishes.

Some cardinals have suggested restructuring the Curia's chain of command, breaking up the all-powerful post of secretary of state, which was held by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone under Pope Benedict XVI.

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